‘You sowed the seeds of accountability’


Before the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted on 25 September, the voices of people from all corners of the world were heard, informing the negotiations which eventually led to the adoption of this agenda, encompassing 17 universal and transformative sustainable development goals.

“It’s official, this is the most inclusive process the UN has ever had,” said Thomas Gass, UN DESA’s Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, quoting the Secretary-General’s remarks, as he addressed a celebratory audience at the Peoples’ Voices Award Ceremony on the eve of the new agenda’s adoption.

Arranged by the UN Millennium Campaign and UN Volunteers (UNV), the event was held in the We the Peoples Hub, a dynamic event space at UN Headquarters, created to help bring together world leaders attending the UN Summit on Sustainable Development as well as the 70th session of the UN General Assembly.

Thomas Gass praised not only the millions of individuals who have participated and shared their views in this process, but also acknowledged the important role played by civil society organizations and the private sector in engaging the system, “setting a new gold standard for participation”.

He also extended a special thanks to the Millennium Campaign as well as to all volunteers around the world, for going that extra mile. “By your work, by your voices – you have pushed open the doors,” Mr. Gass stressed. “You have helped the delegates and the governments to find a common humanity, nothing less than that.”

He also stressed that we together, through this process, have “sowed the seeds of accountability” and that we also now have “169 definitions of what it means to leave no one behind,” referring to the targets outlined for the 17 sustainable development goals.

In his capacity as the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Mr. Gass has also himself played an instrumental role in bringing together the various international actors that can help make this new agenda a reality.

The Peoples’ Voices Challenge is a pioneering project aimed at incentivizing and recognizing the efforts of peoples and stakeholders around the world who have contributed to define the new development agenda and have made a critical contribution towards the achievement of the MDGs.

At the Peoples’ Voices Award Ceremony on 25 September, initiatives were awarded in a number of categories, including “Best multi-stakeholder collaboration”, “Longstanding contribution to the achievement of the MDGs through campaigning” and “Longstanding contribution to the achievement of the MDGs through volunteer action.”

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